Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Making a Case for a Metroid RPG Part 1

It's time for Metroid to transcend, leave action platforming behind and embrace the action RPG genre.

With Nintendo giving Samus Aran the cold shoulder, Matt Hauenstein of Nintendo Love Affair tells us why the next iteration of the Metroid series should be an RPG. For the first part of this two-part series, Matt relives the history of Metroid and lays a foundation for why it has the making for a perfect RPG. The time is right Nintendo.  

Dorm Days
When I was in college there was one thing that brought everyone together(drinking notwithstanding). Jocks and nerds alike rejoiced whenever a certain video game was powered up. Each person would cram inside a small dorm room and gather around a 5 year old cathode tube television on an assemblage of futons and bean bag chairs. All vying for a chance to play a 10 year old game on a 13 year old console. The game in question, Super Smash Bros for the Nintendo 64. 

Deciding which character to pick was a real struggle and crisis of conscious for some, but for me, oh no, I was always resolute on who my champion would be. The character I picked was always the blonde bounty hunter herself, Samus Aran. The reasons behind this were simple, she was the coolest. Armed to the teeth, she wielded a laser cannon, missiles, and bombs. You name it, she had the requisite skills to defeat it. Her character had always appealed to me. Her core story was that she was a bounty hunter in space that hunted down evil(the evil most often times being Metroids). The possibilities for the stories one could tell about her were endless. I played Super Metroid as a child and was ever intrigued by it. My love of all things sci-fi only brokered a stronger bond between me and this fascinating character.

Game Release History
Samus’ only appearance after Super Metroid(1994 SNES) was in the above mentioned Super Smash Bros.(1999 N64). Throughout the entire lifespan of the N64 not a single stand alone Metroid game was made. Not until Metroid Prime came out in 2002 for the GameCube, was Samus Aran heard from. But fans of the cosmic hunter were blessed with a trilogy that satiated everyone's appetite for new Metroid games. Those games spanned from Prime in 2002 to Echoes in 2004 and ended with Corruption in 2007. During this time Nintendo had made an emphasis on using its core IP’s to help make the Wii a success.  They developed new games for Mario(Super Mario Galaxy), Zelda(Twilight Princess), Donkey Kong(Jungle Beat) and kept churning out Mario Kart and Mario Party sequels. Samus would also go on to make 2 more appearances in subsequent Super Smash Bros games. As a fan of Metroid and its leading lady, Samus Aran, I was on cloud 9. 

I was convinced that Retro Studios would continue the brand for the foreseeable future. After a two year hiatus a new Metroid game was released, not by Retro Studios though, but by Team Ninja. The game was titled Metroid: Other M. Team Ninja, based in Japan, were known for their work on the hack and slash Ninja Gaiden series and the Dead or Alive fighting series. Other M, not surprisingly bore little resemblance to Retro’s prior Metroid titles. It was more similar to Metroid’s roots on NES and SNES, and worked well as a 3D/2D adventure/shooter game. However, many derided the game despite its positive metacritic score of 79/100. G4’s Attack of Show selected it as one of the worst games of 2010 and Game Informer labeled it as the third biggest disappointment of 2010. Since Metroid: Other M was released in August 2010 Nintendo has not developed or announced another Samus led Metroid title(a Metroid Prime trilogy remaster was released in 2009. Samus also appeared in 2014’s Super Smash Bros Wii U). 

What's Next?
After 6, and some would say 9, long years Nintendo has kept one of its best players on the bench. I feel Nintendo has betrayed me and fans across the globe by keeping the its orange assassin shelved. But, I have hope that the mothership will call our favorite bounty hunter back into action, and I think I have a few ideas on how they should do it.

Do you think Metroid would make a great RPG? Check back tomorrow for part 2 with Nintendo Love Affair's ideas supporting why it needs to happen! Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Matt Hauenstein is first and foremost an unabashed geek, long before the hipsters took that from us. He sees himself as someone that can comment on anything whether that be “The Golden Age of TV” or Kanye West’s fashion sense. He grew up with Nintendo, specifically the SNES & Super Mario World, and is still enamored with its charms. Reach him on twitter @RustyShackl4rd

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